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Walter Johannes Damrosch Edit Profile


Walter Johannes Damrosch was a German-American conductor, educator, and composer.


Damrosch, Walter Johannes was born on January 30, 1862 in Breslau, Prussia. Son of Doctor Leopold and Helene (von Heimburg) Damrosch.


Musical education under his father and Rischbieter, Urspruch and Hans von Bülow. Honorary Doctor of Music, Columbia University, 1914. Honorary Doctor of Music, Princeton University, 1929.

Dartmouth, University of Maine, New York University, Washington and Jefferson College, New York State University, Brown University, University of Pennsylvania Came to the United States with father, 1871.


In 1881 he was conductor of the Newark, New Jersey, Harmonic Society and in 1885 succeeded his father both at the New York Oratorio Society (until 1898) and the New York Symphony Society (until 1903). He was also assistant to his father and to Anton Seidl as conductor of German opera at the Metropolitan Opera in New York (1885-1891).

In 1902 he became the conductor of the New York Philharmonic Society, and a year later he returned to the now reorganized New York Symphony Society as its regular conductor, staying with the ensemble until 1927, and taking it on a European tour in 1920. Damrosch later organized, at the request of General John Jo Pershing, the American Expeditionary Force bands, and in 1918 founded schools for bandmasters in Chaumont, France.

In 1925 Damrosch conducted the New York Symphony Society Orchestra in the first network broadcast over the newly organized NBC and a year later was appointed musical adviser for the network, a position he held for twenty years. During this time he also conducted the NBC Symphony Orchestra in a series of weekly music-appreciation hours heard in schools and colleges all over North America.

Harold C. Schonberg, the doyen of music critics, dismissed this pioneering experience completely: “It is estimated that every Friday morning as many as six million impressionable school children were forced to listen to his broadcast in the name of culture. Many alive still remember his hearty, unctuous salutation: “My dear children...” Damrosch conceived the idea of implanting great melodies in his youngsters’ heads by writing words to the tunes and having the children sing along. Goodness knows how many potential music lovers were permanently maimed by this procedure.

Damrosch led the American premieres of many staples of the repertoire, like the Third and Fourth symphonies of Brahms or the Fourth and Sixth symphonies of Tchaikovsky.

Damrosch composed several operas, including The Scarlet Letter, Cyrano de Bergerac, and The Man without a Country. He also composed incidental music for the theater and many songs.


  • In 1894 Damrosch organized the Damrosch Opera Company, which he directed for five seasons, presenting German singers of German repertoire in major cities across the United States.


Club: Century. By request of General Pershing, reformed the bands of American Expeditionary Force and founded a school for its bandmasters at General Headquarters, Chaumont, France, under eminent French instrs., 1918.


Married Margaret, d. Children: Alice, Gretchen, Polly, Anita.

Doctor Leopold Damrosch

Helene (von Heimburg) Damrosch


Alice Damrosch

Gretchen Damrosch

Polly Damrosch

Anita Damrosch